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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #4001
    Boolit Man
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    HighUintas' Paulownia Powder Test

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    Paulownia finished today and I just had to try it out! Moved the target up to 50 yards and sighting center of Bull.
    I expected high fastballs, and this didn't disappoint! The rifle was sighted about this good, at 100 yards, with different powder. Much closer to and on the bullseye.
    10 shots, 279 grain PRB. The first shot of the day was the slowest, at 1282 fps. It was also the highest, on the target.
    Average speed 1310 Feet Per Second. That equates to 1062.91 foot Pounds! Fastest, 1328 fps. Slowest 1282 fps. Deviation 46 FPS. Got one weird reading from the chrono and looked it up on the instructions and it said duplicate shot! That was cool. 9 of 20 shots on the day, were within 3 feet per second of each other. 11 of 20 shots were within 10 fps. I'm hoping that means fair consistency.
    Many thanks to HighUintas, for the Paulownia wood, to try out! It came out very good, clean, fast and consistent. It averaged 64 FPS slower than my Sassafras, but was as clean, I'm thinking. Much cleaner than the Graf and Son's Swiss, that I was using in times past. I wish I had a chronograph comparison to share with you, but I'm out of it. I hope to be making that comparison, soon.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 06-09-2021 at 04:05 AM.

  2. #4002
    Boolit Man
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    I swabbed every shot. This was what came out, after ten shots. The two patches were all I took time to find, in knee deep grass. The swabs are old sweat pants legs. They work great, with a little Windex with Vinegar. I use pure lanolin half and half with small animal tallow, for lube. My grandpa left me probably five pounds of it, 38 years ago, and I've found it to make perfect lube. Those patches are still wet greasy. He trapped all his life, and saved the tallow of all the fur animals, rendered down, to use on his harness and leather goods. He never owned a tractor and did all his farming with horses. A good friend and rifle smith turned me on to using Lanolin. He shot black powder, for many years, and is full of little tricks.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 06-09-2021 at 03:11 AM.

  3. #4003
    Doublebuck - I was the one who posted about crushing pucks with PVC. I just use a 2" cap and a 1 1/2" cap. I don't have them mounted in pipes or anything. I put my pucks in the 2" cap, put the 1 1/2" cap on top, then crunch them in the press. I just work the pump by hand - with no handle - until it quits making loud crunchy noises and starts getting some resistance. Then I'll take it out, shake it up, and do it again. After 4-5 times of that, I'll pour it through my sifting screens. The big stuff I'll crunch back in the press. After a couple of rounds, the big stuff is down to 1/4" or so and I'll run it through the grinder. The double curved surfaces of the PVC really do the trick but, if you press it too hard, it just wants to bind back up again.

  4. #4004
    I also posted some results about pressing pucks dry. I'm in Florida and we have humidity. If it gets below 70%, it's a good day. Below 50% is almost unheard of and only happens if we have a cold front pass in the middle of the afternoon. In the mornings, it's usually close to 100%. This time of year, we get lots of fog in the mornings.

    I've never used water for my pucks except for one experiment. I had dried my powder before pressing to see what would happen. It didn't work well. I got powdery, crumbly pucks. I took that stuff, added one drop of water, let it sit overnight, and pressed it again. It pressed fine with a little water. I don't think the key is finding the MAXIMUM ammount of water you can use, but rather the MINIMUM ammount of water. A 70% humidity day is plenty of water for puck pressing.

  5. #4005
    I just saw a video on moistre levels when mixing concrete and It got me thinking about pressing pucks. The tests that were done on the concrete that was mixed so dry it would barely form, was nearly 50% stronger than the concrete that was mixed wet. But wet concrete is easier to work into forms and voids.

    Could the powder that's pressed with the minimum water be more dense in a heavier press? But lighter presses make nicer pucks with wetter powder?

  6. #4006
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paramax55 View Post
    I just saw a video on moistre levels when mixing concrete and It got me thinking about pressing pucks. The tests that were done on the concrete that was mixed so dry it would barely form, was nearly 50% stronger than the concrete that was mixed wet. But wet concrete is easier to work into forms and voids.

    Could the powder that's pressed with the minimum water be more dense in a heavier press? But lighter presses make nicer pucks with wetter powder?
    Yes, that chart shows that to hit a Target density for your puck, you can either go with a higher pressure and lower moisture content, or a lower pressure and higher moisture content.

    They go on to show that the burn rate of their compressed powder samples is a function of the density. They were burning strands of powder, not granulated. So it would be like a very thin and longer puck. They showed that the burn rate was the exact same for two different samples if they are the same density even if they were compressed using exact opposite methods; high pressure and low moisture or low pressure and high moisture. the samples were dried to the same moisture content after being compressed, of course.

    Using this information, I think I am going to go for a higher moisture content and not completely max out my press since I seem to be very good at bending it out of whack haha!

    There is also a statement about dwell time experiments in there, but there was no mention of any results. Surely, a longer dwell time gives a denser puck!

  7. #4007
    Boolit Buddy
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    I order my stuff from Duda-diesel a couple weeks ago and got to work.

    I picked up a dropped piece of branch from a tree of heaven out back and cut it into 3/4" thick rounds and into a paint can on the turkey fryer burner for charcoal. If it came out still a bit brown it went back in for a second round. All of the TOH's are now dead from the spotted lantern fly's so no spring cut wood. I scraped off the punky stuff along with the remaining bark. I scraped off as much of the creosote that dripped off the lid back onto charcoal as I could. Charcoal pieces went into the ball mill canister to grind for a few hours. Dumped it into a bucket through a screen and any pieces of charcoal that didn't grind went over the fence.

    Measured a batch of charcoal that was divisible by 3 and added 2 parts sulfur for each 3 of charcoal into a second canister and milled for a few more hours then into a sealed bucket. 300g of Kno3 into a 3rd canister and 6 hrs later it was still beads....grrrrr. Amazon to the rescue, bought a spice/coffee grinder which SWMBO promptly grabbed and wrapped up for my birthday, so I had to wait.

    In the meantime I made a batch using the CIA method. Dipped into my supply of 99% Iso to chill a 1/2 liter in the freezer. After making a 400g batch this way I was VERY interested in seeing a side by side comparison of CIA vs Milled BP. What a PITA! What a mess! My charcoal and sulfur mix did NOT want to wet out in the KNO3 solution, it's boiling, I'm mixing, it's boiling, I'm mixing, it's boiling, I'm worrying that it's going to boil dry while I'm mixing.......

    Got the spice grinder going and reduced a couple lbs of KNO3 to dust in short order and put it in a sealed bucket. 300g of KNo3 AND 100G OF CC/S and 4g of red gum into a fresh canister and let it mill for 4 hrs. Gray powder came out....hmmmm. Based on some of my reading here...normal...whatever.

    My CIA batch I had added 1% red gum and wetted out with 1/2 ISO and half H2O to make balls and screened through a home made window screen sieve of about 20 mesh. I got the mix pretty wet, but it made good looking grains. After using Paramax's dashboard dryer screened it again and had to do a good bit of heavy handed screening since a lot of it stuck together pretty hard. When I compared it to commercial, 90gr of Goex 2ff by volume gives me 87gr by weight. 90gr of Swiss 2ff by vol gives 92gr weighed. 90gr of my homemade gave me about 61gr by weighed. I'm using it primarily in a Lyman GPR so density is only important to me from a how much to use standpoint, ASSuming I can throw reasonably consistant charges. I wetted out my milled BP about the same way, but I stopped when I could just mold it into balls, not too wet. Screened it and dryed it the same way. Sifted it back through the screen and had to force very little of it through the screen as it didn't stick together much. When I weighed it....90gr by volume gave me only about 45gr weighed.

    Proof of concept. I got to the range today. I had intended to shoot 5 shots of each batch at 60gr, 70, 80 and 90gr weighed. I forgot my range rod and patch jag so only had a patch worm and hickory rod to work with. As such I used commercial round balls and white patches which seat easily and as such give up some velocity and accuracy to a tighter fit. I also forgot my priming tool so had to use some of my homemade in the pan to prime. Lots of slow ignition. Due to working outside I was wearing shorts so between the biting flies, sweat bees and mosquitos I only fired 3 shots each at 60 and 70gr and beat feet out of there. I weighed all of my charges and wet patched between every shot. I got much better consistency with the milled powder although I shot it second so I may have been refining my loading procedure with the less dense powder, it compresses much more than commercial, (maybe there is a reason to press pucks for frontstuffers).

    I average 1400fps with 90gr vol of Goex (87gr weighed) with a tight patch and ball.
    I average 1650fps with 90gr vol of Swiss (92gr weighed) with a tight patch and ball.
    I got 1334 (cold clean barrel) 1204 and 1186 from 60gr weighed CIA method.
    I got 1393, 1517 and 1327 from 70gr weighed CIA method.
    I got 1300, 1370 and 1272 from 60gr milled.
    I got 1428, 1392 and 1416 from 70gr milled.

    My powder is definitely dirtier than Swiss, maybe a little dirtier than Goex.
    The milled powder was MUCH better as a priming powder than the CIA powder OR the milled powder was easier to ignite than the CIA method powder. On my last shot (maybe others as well, but I failed to notice.) I loaded with the frizzen closed, when I went to prime I noticed that some fines had blown through the touch hole into the pan. I thought ***, why not try it. Ignition was instantaneous or at least it seemed like it after all the slow ignitions before it.

    Not sure what I'll do after the dead TOH's rot. I do have a sassafras of two, but the supply is limited, maybe I'll have to try to propagate them.
    Maybe I'll experiment with honeysuckle? I have LOTS. You know, when I runout the honey do list. Meaning, don't hold your breath waiting on test results.

  8. #4008
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by seetrout View Post
    Got the spice grinder going and reduced a couple lbs of KNO3 to dust in short order and put it in a sealed bucket. 300g of KNo3 AND 100G OF CC/S and 4g of red gum into a fresh canister and let it mill for 4 hrs. Gray powder came out....hmmmm. Based on some of my reading here...normal...whatever.
    After wetting out and screening the powder it's as black as the first batch. It takes careful observation to tell them apart.

  9. #4009
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paramax55 View Post
    Doublebuck - I was the one who posted about crushing pucks with PVC. I just use a 2" cap and a 1 1/2" cap. I don't have them mounted in pipes or anything. I put my pucks in the 2" cap, put the 1 1/2" cap on top, then crunch them in the press. I just work the pump by hand - with no handle - until it quits making loud crunchy noises and starts getting some resistance. Then I'll take it out, shake it up, and do it again. After 4-5 times of that, I'll pour it through my sifting screens. The big stuff I'll crunch back in the press. After a couple of rounds, the big stuff is down to 1/4" or so and I'll run it through the grinder. The double curved surfaces of the PVC really do the trick but, if you press it too hard, it just wants to bind back up again.
    Thanks Paramax, I thought it was you that had posted it. I had some 1 1/2 inch pipe and some 2", but got to thinking, before I bought the caps and said a 1 1/2 inch cap wouldn't go into a 2" schedule 40 pipe. I didn't think about just using the caps. So I went two inch and three inch. That's a good idea and I may give that a go, the next round. I really wanted to use the 1 1/2 and 2 inch, because you could tell that they would mesh together really good. The pipe works great, to keep things in one place, but it was a workout deluxe, to get the pieces smaller than a pea. I beat the hell out of those pucks for longer than I cared to. haha What you said about concrete was correct, for sure. Dry is stronger. State or Federal jobs, they require dry mix, and it works the crews to death. Because, they want it to look good as well, and dry mix is hard to make pretty. When HighUintas posted that chart, it came together for me. That 4% moisture makes a lot of sense. I thought it was working for me so well, because I was maxing out a 20 ton press on it. But, when I dried the powder, thinking that was a good thing, it was actually a mistake. That 80 to 100% humidity was the key. I should have left it out longer. ha. I have read of too many guys making good pucks, with a six ton press. That should have given me a clue.

  10. #4010
    Boolit Man
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    Seetrout, I think I'm the only person who has mentioned Sassafras. Most guys use that TOH, Paulownia, Willow (mainly Black), Eastern Red Cedar, White pine, or several of the light woods, like Poplar. Buckthorn Alder is supposed to be really good. The reason I ever tried Sassafras, was because the pyro guys at Wichita Buggy Whip did a lot of charcoal tests and Sassafras was very fast and had great lift time on their lift tests. And, I have a whole row of Sassafras, just behind my house. It's scattered all over my farm. I tried it, and it has been the best so far for me. It has great speed, on the burn rates, and seemed consistent on my bullets. And, it seems very clean. I have bought a chronograph and am testing it out, as fast as I can. I have a pound of my best Sassafras, and am fixing to uncork it and see if it's just me, or if it really is what I think. The chrono is the last word. If they don't lie. I had three willow trees in the front yard (they every one died, in the last three years and were nice trees) that I tried powder from and have made powder out of several things. There are so many variables, that I couldn't begin to say which way to go. I cut my Sassafras green, like now, or in the fall. I like it green, because it is easy to debark. I'm worried about some I sent to HighUintas, because it was standing dead limbs. I could get more in a box, and pay less shipping. If he has no luck with it, I'm saying it's because it has to be cut green. haha. I hope you can find your nitch and make you some good powder. It sounds like you know what your looking for, and that is great. If you are interested, there is some very good wood, charcoal, powder, milling and binder information at this link http://www.wichitabuggywhip.com/fire...oal_tests.html Good luck to you!

  11. #4011
    Boolit Man
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    I've shot over 60 rounds, the last two days and loved every minute of it. I moved the target out to 75 yards and shot 20 this morning and then moved it to 100 yards and shot 22 more. This was 75 yards. My rifle was shooting groups this good, at 100 yards, when I ran out of powder and had to start semi fresh. This was Paulownia that was given to me. I made a string of 11 shots, at 100 yards, nearly this tight with four bullseyes. I walked out, because they say I'm supposed to, and took my paint and notebook and pen and marksalot. Painted the target and realized I forgot to take a picture. No problem, I'll just do it again, right? Wrong answer. I'm not going to post the picture of the 12 that I shot next. It ain't that pretty, at all. But, I did shoot a nice 100 yard group, nearly this tight, with my inevitable 2 flyers. These chronographed an average of 1310.9 FPS With a deviation of 40 fps. I swab every shot but it does seem to burn pretty clean. Out of 60+ shots, I had three ftf, on the first go. Funk in the nipple on one, but the other two just needed another cap. One of them went pop...bang. Right when I was least expecting it. ha. Have a good one, everybody. I've got a rifle to clean, at midnight.

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  12. #4012
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    I've shot over 60 rounds, the last two days and loved every minute of it. I moved the target out to 75 yards and shot 20 this morning and then moved it to 100 yards and shot 22 more. This was 75 yards. My rifle was shooting groups this good, at 100 yards, when I ran out of powder and had to start semi fresh. This was Paulownia that was given to me. I made a string of 11 shots, at 100 yards, nearly this tight with four bullseyes. I walked out, because they say I'm supposed to, and took my paint and notebook and pen and marksalot. Painted the target and realized I forgot to take a picture. No problem, I'll just do it again, right? Wrong answer. I'm not going to post the picture of the 12 that I shot next. It ain't that pretty, at all. But, I did shoot a nice 100 yard group, nearly this tight, with my inevitable 2 flyers. These chronographed an average of 1310.9 FPS With a deviation of 40 fps. I swab every shot but it does seem to burn pretty clean. Out of 60+ shots, I had three ftf, on the first go. Funk in the nipple on one, but the other two just needed another cap. One of them went pop...bang. Right when I was least expecting it. ha. Have a good one, everybody. I've got a rifle to clean, at midnight.

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    FTF and slow ignitions
    I reckon we get more of this with HM simply because the ungraphited/unpolished HM just dont flow like commercial - needs us to be more careful filling measures (tap the measure down evenly to make sure it fills same each time) and also loading a ML - give ole betsy a few good slaps on the cheek (right near the lock with it upright) to make sure the powder seats down in the ignition channel properly. just a bit of a glitch to get used to ....................

  13. #4013
    Boolit Master
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    I wish one of you ambitious and studious, hard working experimenters would try glazing some home made powder. Then see how the grain density stacks up to Goex, and how much better it might flow into measures. A fellow wouldn't have to use graphite if you don't want it. Just throw some otherwise ready to go powder back in the tumbler with some scraps of denim material. You'll likely have to screen it again then to get the dust out, but it would be interesting to see how much it increases density via the grains stacking together better, and how much better it handles in our measures.

    Sorry, I'm just so buried in work right now I don't have time for experimenting myself. And my back is just killing me and it looks like a third operation is in the near future... :~(

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  14. #4014
    Boolit Man
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    "Sorry, I'm just so buried in work right now I don't have time for experimenting myself. And my back is just killing me and it looks like a third operation is in the near future... :~( "
    Sorry to hear that, VettePilot. Hope you don't have to have it, but if you do, I hope you heal fast and fully.

  15. #4015
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vettepilot View Post
    I wish one of you ambitious and studious, hard working experimenters would try glazing some home made powder. Then see how the grain density stacks up to Goex, and how much better it might flow into measures. A fellow wouldn't have to use graphite if you don't want it. Just throw some otherwise ready to go powder back in the tumbler with some scraps of denim material. You'll likely have to screen it again then to get the dust out, but it would be interesting to see how much it increases density via the grains stacking together better, and how much better it handles in our measures.

    Sorry - not me - aint broke dont need fixin

    Sorry, I'm just so buried in work right now I don't have time for experimenting myself. And my back is just killing me and it looks like a third operation is in the near future... :~(

    Vettepilot
    ......

  16. #4016
    Boolit Man
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    "Sorry - not me - aint broke dont need fixin"
    Indian Joe, lol

  17. #4017
    Boolit Master
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    It's just me... always curious. Yeah, yeah... I know about curiosity and the cat. ;~)

    I'm presently reading "Never for want of powder". Even in war time, they polished their powder, for whatever that's worth.

    Thanks for the well wishes. Really is miserable. Takes a ton of will power to fight the pain and get all my work/projects moving forward. Another MRI coming near end of month...

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  18. #4018
    Boolit Man
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    Ok, so I worked pucks three days ago and put all the fines in a cottage cheese container, without a lid and exposed to 65-94% humidity, from 72-94. I pressed a stack and came back thirty minutes later, and had probably lost a full gram, if not two, of moisture. Imagine that, if you will. All I could do, is grin. So, now I have the rest setting on my 140 pickup dash, waiting to take the first set off the press. Thanks for the great idea, Paramax55!!!
    I'm saying, that this high humidity can be a blessing, or a curse, and it's pretty variable. Sometimes you feel like a nut....

  19. #4019
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks for those research links HighUintas!

  20. #4020
    Boolit Master
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    So it rather sounds like...

    If your powder has been well exposed to ~50% humidity or more, it might be good to press. If not, add moisture. (And very dam little.)

    Anyone care to take me up on my glazing/polishing idea?

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check